I set out to prove that the #1 vegetable that we should all be eating can be delicious. Collard Greens. I know most of us in the north don’t even know what they are unless they have been to every Cracker Barrel Restaurant on the way to Disney World. This was my first experience of cooked greens as a child and it may just have set me up for a love of vegetables. Collard greens are the deep green, large, flat leaf right next to the other veggies at the grocery store that you don’t touch because you don’t know how to prepare.

Collard greens have an inedible, tough stalk that should be cut off after each leaf is rinsed of its grit. Once clean, the easiest way to cut them is called a “chiffonade” which means stack them up 5-6 deep and roll into a tube before slicing thinly across the leaf. You will end up with a pile of ribbon thin greens that will become sweet and tender in just a few minutes.

With a nod to the Southern tradition, I attempted a healthier version than the “boil to death and add butter, sausage and salt” without losing the hearty flavor. Discovering that it only takes a few small breakfast sausages to flavor the whole dish. Finished with maple syrup to engage the kid’s palate, I packed off the dish (recipe below) to contribute to the table at another family’s home. Knowing that the acceptance of it could go either way.

It was a success, everyone liked it and remarked but I, of course, had a few tweaks that I would do differently before documenting this wonderfully healthy and really tasty dish for others to try. When asked if she liked it my 14 year old daughter commented:

“ya, my mom’s cooking is good but because she is always “developing recipes” nothing is ever RIGHT. We get the discards or the test runs while she works it out.” Ah such perspicacious insight. Below, you get the RIGHT version, it is really worth a try.

Maple Collard Greens

Serves 4

1 bunch collard greens (10 cups chopped)

½ cup water

1 tsp butter

2 cooked breakfast sausages

¼ cup real maple syrup

Cut off stalks and discard. Rinse leaves well under cold running water and lay in stacks of 6 or so on a cutting board. Roll into a tube before slicing thinly across the leaf. You will end up with a pile of ribbon thin greens. Place cut greens into a large skillet with water and cover with a lid. Steam on high for 10 minutes. Stir in remaining ingredients and cook on low for another 5 or until water evaporates. Toss to coat leaves with syrup.